Examination of Witness (Questions 600-619)|
19 JUNE 2003
Q600 Sir John Stanley: You are going
to refer to the 45 minutes?
Mr Wilkie: I will refer to that
last, if you do not mind, Sir John. On the second page, the first
dot, these pesky mobile laboratories. There is a great debate
over whether these trailers are or are not mobile laboratories
and whether it is one, two or three. I do not care whether it
is ten or 20 trailers, the point is we are talking about things,
we are talking about finds that are so small in scale and are
so far short of this serious and imminent threat. I think what
we have found so far is much closer to my claim that it was a
disjointed and contained WMD programme and not the sort of big
national programme that was sold to us as the justification for
the war. Below the line on that page, they are talking about the
uranium from Niger. I know there has been some speculation about
this but my understanding from having worked in the intelligence
community is that the fact that the CIA disputed the uranium from
Niger, that was known in the CIA early in 2002 and was shared
with allied intelligence agencies through the normal intelligence
sharing processes. As far as I am concerned the fact that that
uranium claim was false would have been known by the British intelligence
services months before this document went to press. Similarly,
talking about the other materials here, I think it is probably
referring to the thousands of aluminium tubes. The International
Atomic Energy Agency had doubts about the purpose of those tubes
from 2001, had doubts shared with the intelligence agencies, certainly
in Australia at ONA and I would assume confidently also within
your own intelligence agencies. That was a concern over a year
before this document was published. There are serious deficiencies
just in the Executive Summary. So I do not speak all day on this,
if I could jump to the 45 minutes. I do not believe that there
is any solid intelligence to back up that claim. I do not know
what report that was based on, I am not claiming to have seen
it. If there is a piece of raw intelligence, a piece of human
intelligence I assume, saying 45 minutes, I would suggest that
it is some of this garbage-grade intelligence. Can I suggest that
we take a step back for a moment. We are getting into the detail
and there are looks of disagreement around the board. The bottom
line here is that in Australia, and I understand in the UK, people
were sold the need for war on the basis of Iraq's WMD programme
and on the basis of the likelihood of them passing WMD to terrorism.
What has been found is so short of that claim, and what is likely
to be found now is unlikely to be this large national programme.
Q601 Mr Chidgey: Just sweeping up
what is left on the dossier, I take it that you do not believe
that the dossier is a balanced assessment of Iraq's capabilities?
Mr Wilkie: No.
Q602 Mr Chidgey: You would not have
endorsed the view that on chemical weapons Iraq has a usable weapons
capability which has included recent production of chemical agents,
as in the dossier?
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe there
is enough evidence to know for sure that Iraq had been manufacturing
chemical and biological weapons recently.
Q603 Mr Chidgey: So presumably you
would not agree with the statement that: "Iraq can deliver
chemical agents using an extensive range of artillery shells,
free fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles"?
Mr Wilkie: The issue here is one
of degree, not of absolutes. I am saying they had a programme,
I am saying they may well have some weapons, I am saying they
may well find something. My chief concern was the way that what
I judged to be a limited threat was exaggerated by the governments
in three capitals. I think there are some elements in here which
are just unbelievable. For example, the L-29 aircraft and the
talk in here about that being used as a platform for spraying
chemical and biological agents, that just does not make sense
to me. To convert a plane like that for that purpose is a very
difficult and expensive project, why not just put them in a cheap
ballistic missile if they are going to deliver them that way?
Q604 Mr Chidgey: Can I just come
on to that because I wanted to ask you specifically, and again
I am quoting from the dossier, one of the claims in it is: "Iraq's
military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons",
it is weapons we are talking about, "with command control
and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able
to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do
so." You would not agree with that? I am asking the question
particularly bearing in mind your military experience, I want
you to think in that context, of what it takes to be able to give
the order, have the weapons system ready in a battlefield scenario.
It does not actually say anything here about launching missiles
to Cyprus, for example.
Mr Wilkie: One thing that strikes
me about that 45 minutes claim is for that to be accurate Iraq
would have needed to have had everything weaponised.
Q605 Mr Chidgey: Everything? It is
a capability, it does not say throughout the whole country, or
Mr Wilkie: Knowing how the military
works in any country, particularly in a country like this, if
they are going to have rounds in the air, or rockets in the air,
in 45 minutes then I believe the actual WMD warhead, if I can
call it that, already needed to be weaponised.
Q606 Mr Chidgey: I understand what
Mr Wilkie: Basically you liquid
fuel a rocket, talk about it, press the button and your 45 minutes
Q607 Mr Chidgey: What about rocket
launchers, that is not liquid fuel as far as I know? I am not
a military man.
Mr Wilkie: My only point here,
and I am probably not articulating this particularly well, is
for a country to have the capability to use WMD within 45 minutes
then its WMD already has to be weaponised.
Q608 Mr Chidgey: The shells have
to be filled?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q609 Mr Chidgey: And the shelves
Mr Wilkie: You are talking about
the shells virtually sitting next to the 155 artillery pieces
Q610 Mr Chidgey: So what is the significance
of that in this analysis?
Mr Wilkie: What is the significance
Q611 Mr Chidgey: Are you saying that
you would have known that they were filled, or what?
Mr Wilkie: I think there is a
huge gap between the claim saying that a factory has been rebuilt
which could manufacture an agent and the claim that a country
has weaponised and deployed its weapons of mass destruction. I
do not believe there was enough hard evidence to paint a picture
of Iraq having a developed capability out there.
Q612 Mr Chidgey: But this dossier
is based on intelligence assessments, it was not invented.
Mr Wilkie: No. I am quite sure
that the people who produced a lot of this in its first form did
a great job, they came up with what their judgment was. I suppose
one of the reasons why I am of interest to a committee like this
is my judgment is at odds with the stated judgments of so many
in the intelligence agencies, one of which I used to work for.
How did I come up with a judgment so different? I cannot explain
that, it was my approach to the issue. I think I was much more
critical, particularly of the human intelligence, and, in fact,
that might have had something to do with the fact that I did do
work on people smuggling to Australia, an issue which is characterised
by appalling human intelligence. Maybe because of the work that
I had been involved in I had a slightly different approach and
I was much more critical compared to some of the agencies.
Q613 Mr Chidgey: Can I pick that
point up. Obviously we have taken evidence from a number of people
already this week and a lot of that has hinged on how intelligence
assessments are processed. I would just like your views, if I
may. My understanding from the evidence we have taken is the raw
intelligence can be very broad brush and some of it can be very
contradictory. Do you take the view that working on that basis,
the assessment, the analysis, that is produced from the intelligence
might result in several different options of what the intelligence
might mean? The classic case, of course, is dual use, or should
we say multi use, chemical processing. One of the options is it
is producing liquid soap or whatever, or it might be producing
lavatory cleanser, or whatever, but it could also do this. You
have to go a step beyond that surely to be able to analyse what
the most likely use of that facility is. Do you see what I am
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q614 Mr Chidgey: You cannot rely
just on the fact that there is a pharmaceutical or chemical plant,
or whatever, which has a range of uses, you have to go further
and have more intelligence to tell us what it is most likely being
used for or most likely to be used for. This is where the options
come in. Could you give me some idea how you would address that
as an intelligence analyst and what sort of reporting procedure
you would then
Mr Wilkie: It is pretty simple
really, is it not? At the end of the day you build a picture of
someone's intention and their capability and you build that picture
trying to get as much intelligence and as much different sources
of intelligence from different sources, technical means and human
Q615 Mr Chidgey: Fine, that is great.
You take a different view in your analysis, your assessment, from
most of the intelligence community. Is that because your analysis
of the evidence comes up with a different conclusion or because
you do not believe that sufficient intelligence was there to come
to the conclusion that was reached?
Mr Wilkie: I think the latter
was an important issue in me making the judgment I did. I did
not think there was enough intelligence to justify some of the
claims, and I have mentioned some of them in this dossier. I suppose
ultimately I had interpreted things differently from some of my
peers. I might point out that on the issue of Iraq, I think in
the intelligence agencies there has been a range of views for
a long time. A strength of the British system is the JIC where
ultimately a compromise has to be reached to go to government,
and ONA is sort of like that in that it is the single gateway.
Q616 Mr Chidgey: Does that not suggest
that the British system which has resulted in the various dossiers
is quite a robust system and, therefore, more trustworthy?
Mr Wilkie: I do not know that
the British system is better than the Australian system.
Q617 Mr Chidgey: I did not make that
Mr Wilkie: I think they are both
pretty good systems. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
These systems came up with an assessment on Iraq that we should
expect a certain WMD programme on a certain scale and it is not
there. We can talk about a whole lot of stuff but at the end of
the day it is not there, it has not been found. Is this a good
document in retrospect? No, in retrospect it is a lousy document
because this document led us to expect that the troops would go
into Iraq and encounter and uncover a huge WMD programme.
Q618 Mr Chidgey: Is your argument,
therefore, that this document is not representative of the intelligence
assessments that were used to produce this document?
Mr Wilkie: I see where you are
coming from. I think this document is a step beyond what I would
expect the JIC to produce. I know that is a big claim and I base
that on the work I have seen of the UK JIC. It is too unambiguous.
It paints too confidently a picture of Iraq's WMD programme.
Q619 Mr Chidgey: Have you ever seen
an intelligence assessment, say a JIC document in this case, resembling
anything like this in your career?
Mr Wilkie: No.